tv Inside Story Al Jazeera December 28, 2013 11:30am-12:01pm EST
>> america's cities are a mixed bag. some are thriving. some are sinking. one thing they have in common is this: when they get into trouble they can't look to the state house or capitol hill for help. running cities in the time of austerity. that's the inside story. >> hello, i'm ray suarez. for many american cities the big municipalities for the core of the metropolitan areas it was a rough half century. from the 1950s on many of them
watched as people, investment, infrastructure, corporate headquarters all fled to the suburbs or newly zooming cities in the sun belt. the government propped up sagging cities with programs, housing support, transit and educational funding all kinds of taxpayer funded support. as the axis swung to the suburbs resentment of the cities grew and they tumbled into decay and decline. since then many places have started to grow again. many suburbs have long since gun to have the same problems as their urban neighbors. even as economic growth has been uneven, sporadic, many cities are healthier financially than their states, healthier than their federal government. an urban report card on this addition of "inside story" we begin with this background. >> thank you very much. >> some of america's major cities are waving good buy to
their veteran mayors this year. the mayor of los angeles' leadership ended over the summer. new york city's mayor michael bloomberg is leaving, too, after more than a decade at city hall. >> new york city has never been stronger than it is today, and i think it's fair to say that our future has never been brighter. >> reporter: in the final speech of the term, he said his city today is drastically different from the one he took glover i think it's safe to say that it's clear that the golden age of the suburb is over, and it is being replaced by a new urban renaissance redefining the future. >> reporter: violence, governmental dysfunction, decay. in the 1970s new york lost more than 10% of its population. it was a center of a growing trend of cities around the country where
middle class residents were fleeing fast to the suburbs. >> if you want to change the world, run for mayor. >> i, michael r. bloomberg do solemnly swear... >> ly after the september 11th attacks he took over investing . it would be his legacy and inspiration to other metropolitan areas around the country. today crime is way down in new york. perhaps in part due to a tough and controversial policing policy called stop and frisk. many minority residents see it as discriminatory, but murders are down 65%, and shootings have been cut in half. the city's face has been changing. 40,000 new buildings have been built over bloomberg's tenure and a third has been rezoned
making it easier for developers. but long term areas of rapid gentrification complain that the city is becoming a place of the super rich and the super poor with the wealth gap continue to go grow. cities are now the place 80% of americans call home, and cities contribute 75% of the national economic output. but there are many challenges. ailing infrastructures, and municipal employee pensions to be paid. >> as optimistic as i am about the look ahead and change the world for the better, and you'll find no stronger believer in that idea than me, we cannot align ourselves to the obstacles that stand in the way. right now our country appears to be in the early stages of a growing fiscal crisis that if nothing is done will extract a terrible toll on the next generation. >> rising from the great
recession americaen cities are on the mend according to the advocacy group the national league of cities, but some key issues still need addressing. seven years of declining tax revenues are strangling many city budgets hurting programs such as pensions, affordable housing, foreclosures, and inner city neighborhoods safe and a bad buy. but on the other hand new luxury homes are replacing public housing racing rent in cities to new highs. deteriorating transportation, and eroding transportation is hurting city's ability to prosper as outdated trains make it hard for commute. the transformation is far from over in towns of new york and boston. all eyes are on them. economists estimate that 10% of
all global gdp growth will come from american cities in the coming decade. >> joining me now to talk about the health of our nation cities at a time of limited resources are from new orleans, , also from new orleans, the former mayor who is now president urgent urban league. james brook, program director of the national league of cities and from boston a reporter with wbur radio. james, you heard player bloomberg. he said the golden age of the suburbs is over, do the fact back him up? >> the facts are mixed. cities, i think, with mayors like mayor bloomberg and others who will be in office, the mayor
in st. paul, the mayor in houston, who have had good tenure and good success, they continue to be a great and continuing source of real leadership in cities, in different parts of the united states. yes, there is a generational change in cities like new york and chicago and other places, but i think we have seen a lot of innovative creative leaders at a local level at a time when leadership is needed. i think that does help cities as you look forward some of the fiscal issues being barriers that they have to all confront. >> you mentioned a generational change, and i did back of the envelope calculation between joe reilly in charleston, john hickenlooper in denver, gavin newsome and michael bloomberg. that's more of a century of city hall experience walking out the
door in the next two years. >> yes, michael bloomberg will do consulting for cities in his time ahead of him. certainly those leaders of some of the largest cities have had some great programming, some great success, some serious challenges, and some set backs. i think if you look at the totality of cities some leadership like new york, chicago, los angeles, charlie hails, the new mayor in portland is coming back after having been a city commissioner. there is a lot of good talent focused on problem solving, focused on doing work in city, which is ultimately making places to live better for their citizens, and they've been doing it in the midst of the economic recession without much help from the states or federal government. >> not that it's ever a great time to be running a city. but with the recession they were taking in less money, and their states were in crisis, and the feds were in crisis. >> yes.
>> did everybody hold fast during that time? could cities really invest in themselves? >> i don't think you could say that they invested in themselves. they were trenched. all you had to do was look at the statistics. cities laid off staff members, even public safety police and fire officials, housing departments were decimated. building inspectors went lots of services were contracted out. volunteers were recruited to clean up parks. cities continued to pay their debts. paying off municipal bonds, and they continued to do that. they had a difficult time. they struggled. they tried to be innovative. they tried to find public public-private partnerships, and partnerships with not-for-profit sectors. there was considerable innovation. cities are not out of the woods. they still have a ways to go despite your accurate report for the fiscal continue of the national league of cities.
they're up turn in terms of revenues but their seven years of decline in revenues, so rebuilding programs especially for the quality of life, neighborhood beautification. going back to that is going to be difficult. public safety as well. >> james brooks stay with us. we'll bring th others in the conversation after this brief break. this is inside story. stay with us. the stream is uniquely interactive television. in fact, we depend on you, your ideas, your concerns. >> all these folks are making a whole lot of money. >> you are one of the voices of this show. >> i think you've offended everyone with that kathy. >> hold on, there's some room to offend people, i'm here. >> we have a right to know what's in our food and monsanto do not have the right to hide it from us. >> so join the conversation and make it your own. >> watch the stream. >> and join the conversation online @ajamstream. >> al jazeera america is the
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>> i'm walking, you guys! >> when you look at crickets you don't necessarily think food. >> eye opening reports that make a difference. >> certain to dominate political discussions. >> award winning documentaries. >> i think a person has the right to know where the hell they come from. >> your house is the same size as my closet. >> the shows that get people talking. >> sundays, only on al jazeera america. >> welcome back. this edition of inside story is an urban report card for our nation's cities for those who knew, know, and run them. now so many cities have weathered this terrible recession, what is job one now. >> invest in infrastructure and job creation i think it job one. to think about it each and every day. how you rebuild, the jobs in the community both from a public sector, investment standpoint, and a private sector standpoint. invest in small businesses.
that's what is needed, and leadership that brings people together across ethnic and political lines. that's going to be the challenge for this new generation of mayors. >> david, is there a risk of sort of killing the goose that lays the golden egg? is boston losing families that might otherwise stay just because the cost of live something becoming so high? >> certainly the cost of live something taking off here, and i think mayors marty walsh campaigned on this , i think there will be limits on what mayors can do around poverty. they'll look at early education and job training, we'll see if it works. >> roberta, in new orleans they have done a lot of things right and there has been a lot of investment. what does it have to watch out for? >> i think the interesting story in new orleans is still
unfolding, but it's really happening out there in the neighborhoods and among the people of new orleans who have made a commitment to rebuild, return, and do things despite a lot of government impediments. i think both in new orleans and in every city we have to look beyond the so-called mega development projects that are expensive, and put all the money in the top, and do nothing about trickling down to the economy. i think mark's point about investing in small businesses and in more localized job creators, that's where the job creation really is, and that's where we need the investment. not in big development projects that really only go to the one percent. >> james, big development is out of fashion, but just like daniel burnham said over a century ago little plans have no power to stir men's blood. people want development home runs, don't they?
>> yes, they do. look at iowa and it's partnerships with ibm, really remarkable relationship looking at debuick. small cities, on the river, historic architecture, ibm came in and took over an old department store and help them advance their sustainability agenda. high technology and it will be one of those gigabyte cities. that's a big development. but like el paso talked about citizen-centered development on their rezoning plan. that's another approach. >> let me stop through. i'm wondering if the success of some of the bigger and better known cities will actually cause people looking for a bargain to take a second look at places like toledo, which was featured in today's "new york times." >> i think there are lots of opportunities. cleveland is one of my favorite
examples because cleveland and it's surrounding region and goes to some point that mark made, the regional thinking in northeast ohio is drawing big cities and their smaller suburban cities together to think regionally to do some clever things. take advantage of the universities in the area. the infrastructure already in place. that's a way to think about this as well. >> and what do the balance shiites look like? can places like detroit, flint, pull out of what looks from the outside like a death spiral? >> detroit is an unique case, i think. i've been following the bankruptcy issues there with judge rhodes. they've had some good plug as recently as a couple of days ago with reframing their loans and their pensions. i think detroit is on its way to improvement, but it has a long way to go just like some other cities do. >> james brooks, david, mark and roberta, thank you all for being with me. >> thank you, ray.
>> thanks a lot. that brings us to the end of this edition of "inside story." thanks for being with us. now the program may be over but the conversation continues. we want to hear what you think about the issues raised on this program or any edition of the show. you can log on to our facebook page. you can send us your thoughts on twitter. our handle, aj inside story a.m. or reach me directly at ray suarez news. we'll see you for the next inside story. and we'll see you all throughout 2014. so continue to join us. in washington i'm ray suarez.
>> welcome, to al jazeera america. i'm richelle carey. here are the stories that we're following for you. time runs out on million of americans who rely on long term unemployment benefits. also the desperate plight of palestinian refugees caught in the middle of the syrian war. we talk about the ethnic violence that is threatening to tear apart the world's newest nation. >> one of china's cities that has anything you could want, except people.